Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
State v. Roche State v. Roche. 37 Mo App 480 (1889)

The defendants were convicted and sentenced upon an information under section 1609, Revised Statutes of 1879, charging them with unlawfully, wilfully and cruelly overdriving a horse, and thereupon prosecute this appeal. The court held that the evidence that a horse was overdriven does not warrant a conviction under Revised Statutes, 1879, section 1609, in the absence of proof, that the overdriving was wilful and not accidental. Thus, the court reversed the lower court.

Stephens v. State Stephans v. State, 3 So. 458 (Miss. 1887) (Arnold J. plurality).

The Mississippi Cruelty to Animal statute was applied to the Defendant who killed several hogs that were eating his crops.  The lower court refused to instruct the Jury that they should find him not guilty, if they believed that he killed the hogs while depredating on his crop and to protect it, and not out of a spirit of cruelty to the animals.  The Supreme Court of Mississippi found it to be an error by the court to refuse to give such instructions because if the defendant was not actuated by a spirit of cruelty, or a disposition to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering, he was not guilty under the statute.

Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JC-0048 Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0048

Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether city ordinances are preempted by statutes that govern the treatment of animals. Specifically, the opinion discusses pigeon shoots. The opinion emphasizes that organized pigeon shoots are prohibited under Texas cruelty laws but that present wildlife laws allow the killing of feral pigeons.

Texas Attorney General Letter Opinion 94-071 Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. LO 94-071

Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether staged fights between penned hogs and dogs constitutes a criminal offense. The Assistant Attorney General deemed these staged fights as violating the criminal cruelty laws.

Sentencia Constitucional 1982/2011-R- Bolivia Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional de Bolivia, Sentencia Constitucional 1982/2011-R The Bolivia Constitutional Tribunal issued this decision in response to a "popular action," a constitutional mechanism safeguarding collective and diffuse rights. The complaint alleged that the municipal Mayor had infringed upon the right to integral education and environmental balance by neglecting to address requests for relocating animals at the "Oscar Alfaro Zoo," where they endured highly inadequate conditions. In its ruling, the tribunal highlighted the interconnectedness of humans with the environment, stressing that environmental preservation hinges on balance and health. Disruption of this delicate equilibrium poses risks to the environment and humans, who are also part of the biological chain. Recognizing the right to a healthy environment as a diffuse right, the court stresses it affects all members of the collective, which includes all elements of the environment and its ecosystems. Thus, the tribunal granted the requested protection, finding the Mayor responsible for violating the right to a healthy environment and the duty to preserve and protect it. The Mayor's inaction led to the tragic death of numerous animals at the zoo. The court ordered the immediate temporary relocation of the animals to specialized facilities to ensure their survival and the conservation of species at the zoo. However, it clarified that the popular action mechanism could not address the right to integral education.
Sentencia 10013-103027-2023-00229-00 (0327) Tribunal Superior de Bogotá, Sala Mixta, Sentencia del 6 de octubre de 2023, Rad. 10013-103027-2023-00229-00 (0327) This is the case of “Simona,” the dog in a family that went through a divorce in 2021. The husband, acting as the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit in the third Family Court to establish a visitation arrangement for their beloved companion, “Simona,” who lived with his ex-wife. The plaintiff argued that Simona was an integral part of their family and that both Simona and him had been emotionally impacted since the separation, as the defendant contended that visitations were distressing for Simona. The plaintiff further contended that Simona used to sleep with him and watch movies, but since she could no longer do so, Simona had become depressed and refused to eat. The family court dismissed the case, stating that it fell under the civil court’s jurisdiction. The Superior Tribunal of Bogotá resolved the jurisdictional conflict between the third Family Court and the twenty-seventh Civil Circuit Court.
United States v. Gideon United States v. Gideon, 1 Minn. 292 (1856).

The Defendant was convicted in the District Court of Hennepin county for the unlawfully malice killing of a dog.  The Defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court of Minnesota to determine whether a dog has value and thus would be cover by the Minnesota cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota found that a dog has no value and would not be covered by the statute.

In re Marriage of Piskalns Unpublished Disposition, 344 Mont. 555, 186 P.3d 877 (Table) (2008) The parties both appealed from the district court’s orders distributing the marital estate upon the parties’ divorce. Kara Pilskalns claimed that the court erred when it granted ownership of Maggie, the couple’s dog, to Andrew Pilskalns. This court affirms the decision, declining to use the best interest of the child standard for the distribution of pets as they are marital property.
Department of Local Government and Regional Development v Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd Western Australia Magistrates Court, 8 February 2008, Magistrate C.P. Crawford

The central allegation was that the defendants transported the sheep in a way likely to cause unnecessary harm. Magistrate Crawford found that the sheep, some of which died from inanition, suffered distress and harm and that this harm was unnecessary. Proof of actual harm, however, was unnecessary as it only had to be shown that it was likely that the sheep would suffer harm. This required evidence pointing only to the conditions onboard the ship, and voyage plan, as at the first day. The defences of necessity and honest and reasonable belief were both dismissed.

Whaling in the Antarctic Whaling in the Antarctic (Austl. v. Japan), 2010 Judgment. In June 2010, Australia commenced proceedings against Japan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Japan has continued an extensive whaling program in breach of its obligations as a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). At issue was the moratorium on commercial whaling agreed upon in the 1980s. According to Australia, though Japan claimed to be killing whales purely for scientific reasons, the true purpose of the program was commercial. Japan did not deny that it was killing whales in the Antarctic, but claimed instead that because the ICRW grants each nation state the right to issue licenses for scientific whaling as it sees fit, Japan’s whaling program was legal. The ICJ ruled that Japan's Antarctic whaling program was not actually for scientific whaling and must end.
R. v. Senior [1899] 1 QB 283

Held: The word "wilfully", when used in the context of an offence prohibiting cruelty to children, "means that the act is done deliberately and intentionally, not by accident or inadvertence, but so that the mind of the person who does the act goes with it" ( per Lord Russell of Killowen C.J.). Note: the word "wilfully" is occasionally an element of animal welfare offences, such as that of wilfully, without any reasonable cause or excuse, administering a poisonous drug or substance to an animal (Protection of Animals Act 1911, s 1(1)(d)).

Johnson v. Needham [1909] 1 KB 626

The Court upheld a decision of local justices to dismiss an information that the defendant "did cruelly ill-treat, abuse, and torture a certain animal" contrary to the Cruelty to Animals Act 1849, s. 2 (1). The Act made it an offence to ill-treat, abuse, or torture an animal, and thereby established three separate offences from which the prosecutor should have elected. Note: Although the 1949 Act has been repealed, similar language appears in the Protection of Animals Act 1911, s 1(1)(a), and presumably the same reasoning applies to that statutory provision.

Waters v. Meakin [1916] 2 KB 111

The respondent had been acquitted of causing unnecessary suffering to rabbits (contrary to the Protection of Animals Act 1911, s. 1(1)) by releasing them into a fenced enclosure from which they had no reasonable chance of escape, before setting dogs after them. Dismissing the prosecutor's appeal, the Divisional Court held that the respondent's conduct fell within the exception provided for "hunting or coursing" by sub-s. (3) (b) of s. 1of the 1911 Act. From the moment that the captive animal is liberated to be hunted or coursed, it falls outwith the protection of the 1911 Act, irrespective of whether the hunting or coursing is humane or sportsmanlike.

Nye v. Niblett [1918] 1 KB 23

Three boys who had killed two farm cats were charged with an offence which could only have been committed if the cats were kept for a "domestic purpose". Local justices had acquitted the boys, in part because there no evidence was before them that the cats that were killed had been kept for a domestic purpose. Allowing the prosecutor's appeal, the Divisional Court held that there was no need to prove that a particular animal was in fact kept for a domestic purpose if it belonged to a class of animals which were ordinarily so kept.

Barnard v. Evans [1925] 2 KB 794

The expression "cruelly ill-treat"" in s 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 means to "cause unnecessary suffering" and "applies to a case where a person wilfully causes pain to an animal without justification for so doing". It is sufficient for the prosecution to prove that the animal was caused to suffer unnecessarily, and the prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant knew that his actions were unnecessary.

McQuaker v. Goddard [1940] 1 KB 687

A camel is not to be regarded as a wild animal by the common law as a camel 'is, in all countries, a domestic animal, an animal that has become trained to the uses of man, and a fortiori accustomed to association with man.' Whether an animal is to be regarded as wild or domestic is a question of law, and is to be judged according to the genus or class of which it belongs, not the characteristics of the individual animal.

Re Weaver; Trumble and Animal Welfare League of Victoria [1963] VR 257

As part of her will, a testatrix left the yearly interest from a capital sum to the benefit of the Animal Welfare League of Victoria. After consideration of the objects of the League, the Court found that the League's activities were charitable and that even if its attention was not devoted to caring for sick animals in need of medical attention, this would not deprive the League's purpose of its charitable intention. The gift was, therefore, deemed a charitable gift.

Rowley v. Murphy [1964] 2 QB 43

A deer being hunted with a pack of hounds jumped onto a road and fell under a stationery vehicle. Members of the hunt dragged the deer from under the vehicle to a nearby enclosure, where the Master of the hunt slit the deer's throat and killed it. The Divisional Court held that the Master could not be convicted of an offence of cruelty under the 1911 Act because, for the purposes of that Act, which protects only captive and domestic animals, a mere temporary inability to escape did not amount to a state of captivity.

Hopson v. DPP [1997] C.O.D. 229

The owner of a bird of prey had kept it in a wire aviary for at least six weeks, during which it had injured itself by repeatedly flying into the wire mesh. Having been convicted on these facts of an offence of cruelly ill-treating the bird contrary to the first limb of s 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, he appealed, contending that under that limb, unlike the second limb, he should only have been convicted if he was guilty of a positive act of deliberate cruelty. Dismissing the appeal, the Divisional Court held that a person could be guilty of cruel ill-treatment of an animal he was responsible for by allowing it to remain in a situation where it was continuing to injure itself, even if he did not desire to bring about the harm.

Oshannessy v Heagney [1997] NSWSC 482

The case focuses primarily on the procedural requirements for stating a case. However, there is also discussion concerning what are the appropriate steps that a motor vehicle driver, who has hit and injured an animal with their vehicle, must take. In this case, the trial judge found that a refusal to stop and inspect the animal did not constitute a failure to take reasonable steps to alleviate that animal's pain.

Holland v Crisafulli [1998] QSC 199

A dog, on two separate occasions, entered residential premises, turned over a cage and killed a guinea pig. The applicant claimed that this was insufficient evidence for the dog to be declared 'dangerous'. The judge found that a dog's propensity to pursue one animal should not be distinguished from a propensity to pursue all animals and that the finding of the dog as 'dangerous' should stand.

Fleet v District Court of New South Wales [1999] NSWCA 363

The appellant's dog was removed by police officers and later euthanised. The dog was emaciated and suffering from numerous ailments. The appellant was charged and convicted with an animal cruelty offence and failure to state his name and address when asked. On appeal, it was found that the court had failed to address the elements of the animal cruelty offence and that the charge of failing to state name and address could not stand.

Takhar v Animal Liberation SA Inc [2000] SASC 400

An ex parte injunction was granted against the applicants preventing distribution or broadcasting of video footage obtained while on the respondent's property. The applicants claimed they were not on the land for an unlawful purpose and that they were there to obtain evidence of breaches of the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act 1985 (SA). The injunction restraining distribution or broadcasting of the footage, which was applicable to the applicants only, was removed on the balance of convenience as the media outlets were at liberty to broadcast.

Perpetual Trustees Tasmania Ltd v State of Tasmania [2000] TASSC 68

A testatrix bequeathed a part of her estate to be used in support of 'animal welfare'. It was held that this constituted a charitable trust as the purpose was so predominantly charitable that the intention was to be assumed and that even if that portion of the estate could be used for non-charitable purposes, this was in a manner allowed under the Wills Act 1992 (Tas).

Brayshaw v Liosatos [2001] ACTSC 2

The appellant had informations laid against him alleging that he, as a person in charge of animals, neglected cattle 'without reasonable excuse' by failing to provide them with food. The appellant had been informed by a veterinarian that his treatment of the cattle was potentially a breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT) and that they were in poor condition. The evidence admitted did not rule out the possibility that the appellant's feeding of the cattle accorded with 'maintenance rations' and the convictions were overturned.

Taylor v. RSPCA [2001] EWHC Admin 103

Two women, who had been disqualified from keeping horses by a court, transferred ownership of the horses to their niece, but had continued to make arrangements for the accommodation of the horses and to provide food and water for them. The women were convicted in the Magistrates' Court of the offence of "having custody" of the horses in breach of the disqualification order, and appealed. Dismissing the appeal, the Divisional Court held that, what amounted to "custody" was primarily a matter of fact for the lower court to decide, and that the local justices had been entitled to conclude that, notwithstanding the transfer of ownership, the two women had continued to be in control, or have the power to control, the horses.

Joyce v Visser [2001] TASSC 116

The appellant was convicted of failing to provide food and water to dogs who were chained to a spot. Citing the extreme nature of the neglect and the need for general deterrence, the trial judge sentenced the appellant to three months' imprisonment. On appeal, the appellate judge found the sentence to be manifestly excessive and reduced the sentence.

Pearson v Janlin Circuses Pty Ltd [2002] NSWSC 1118

The defendant deprived an elephant in a circus of contact with other elephants for years. On a particular day, the defendant authorised three other elephants to be kept in the proximity of the elephant for a number of hours. It was claimed that this act constituted an act of cruelty as it caused distress to the elephant. On appeal, it was determined that mens rea was not an element of a cruelty offence under the statute.

Animal Liberation Ltd v National Parks & Wildlife Service [2003] NSWSC 457

The applicants sought an interlocutory injunction to restrain the respondent from conducting an aerial shooting of goats as part of a 'cull'. The applicants claimed that the aerial shooting constituted cruelty as the goats, once wounded, would die a slow death. An injunction was granted to the applicants pending final hearing of the substantive action against the aerial shooting.

Re Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. and Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts [2004] AATA 1383

The Minister for the Environment approved plans for the 'harvesting' of Kangaroos in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The Tribunal found that the killing of joeys, where the mother was also killed, was sanctioned by the Model Code relating to kangaroos and that any licences issued under the plans authorised those killings. The Tribunal found that the likelihood of compliance with the code, which stipulated the manner of killing of kangaroos, would be in the range of 95-99%. The Tribunal approved each of the plans but made a recommendation that future plans should involve a greater element of public consultation.

Beaumont v Cahir [2004] ACTSC 97

The appellant landed a hot air balloon in a paddock occupied by a dressage horse belonging to the respondent. The horse was spooked and impaled itself on fencing. The appellant was liable for the cost of reinstating the horse to health and was not permitted to euthanise the horse and find a replacement.

Mansbridge v Nichols [2004] VSC 530

The appellant was convicted of seven offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic) related to the appellant's treatment of merino sheep in her care. The appellant was successful in overturning three of the charges on the basis that they were latently duplicitous or ambiguous. The appellant was unsuccessful in arguing that the trial judge failed to give adequate reasons.

Anderson v Ah Kit [2004] WASC 194

In proceedings for defamation, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant published information giving rise to the imputations that the plaintiff left animals to starve and that the Northern Territory government had to intervene to feed those animals. The defendant pleaded, inter alia, the defences of Polly Peck and fair comment. The Court ruled that the Polly Peck defense was sufficiently justified to survive the plaintiff's strike out application. It was held, however, that although animal welfare generally was a matter of public interest, the welfare of some animals held on private property was not, and could not be made by extensive media coverage, a matter of public interest.

Australian Wool Innovation Ltd v Newkirk (No 2) [2005] FCA 1307

The respondents, including PETA, engaged in a campaign to boycott the Australian wool industry on the bases of the cruelty incurred by the practice of mulesing and because of its link to the live export industry. The applicants, including Australian Wool Innovation who represented the Australian wool industry, sought to bring an action against the respondents for hindering trade under the Trade Practices Act (Cth) s 45DB and conspiring to injure the applicants by unlawful means. The respondents were successful in having these claims struck out.

Turner v Cole [2005] TASSC 72

RSPCA officers found a horse belonging to the applicant on the applicant's property and, after preparing the horse for transport, had to euthanise the animal when it collapsed. The applicant was convicted of failing to feed a horse which led to its serious disablement and eventual euthanisation. The applicant was unsuccessful on all issues on appeal and was liable for a fine of $4000 and prevention from owning 20 or more horses for five years.

Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc and Minister for Environment and Heritage and Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc and Animals Australia and Flinders Council [2006] AATA 953

The respondent Minister made declarations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) that particular plans relating to Bennett's wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons were approved wildlife trade management plans. The applicant questioned whether the plans permitted the inhumane hunting of wallabies and treatment of joeys as well as the basis upon which the quotas were derived. The tribunal found both matters satisfactorily addressed though further monitoring measures were deemed to be prudent.

Crump v Equine Nutrition Systems Pty Ltd t/as Horsepower [2006] NSWSC 512

The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased horse feed from the first respondent and that the feed was contaminated with monensin. The second respondent manufactured the feed. They claimed that as a result, one of their horses died and five others were permanently injured so that they could not be used for the desired purpose. After addressing several factual issues, the trial judge found for the plaintiffs in regards to the issue of negligence by the second respondent and proceeded to assess damages with regard to the economic value of the horses to the plaintiffs, the cost of replacement, loss of profits and maintenance.

Adams v Reahy [2007] NSWSC 1276

The first respondent claimed that despite their best efforts their dog was unable to gain weight and appeared emaciated. When proceedings were instituted, the first respondent was successful in being granted a permanent stay as the appellant, the RSPCA, failed to grant the first respondent access to the dog to determine its current state of health. On appeal, it was determined that a permanent stay was an inappropriate remedy and that the first respondent should be granted a temporary stay only until the dog could be examined.

Animal Liberation Ltd v Department of Environment & Conservation [2007] NSWSC 221

The applicants sought to restrain a proposed aerial shooting of pigs and goats on interlocutory basis pending the outcome of a suit claiming the aerial shooting would constitute cruelty. It was found that the applicants did not have a 'special interest' and as such did not have standing to bring the injunction. The application was dismissed.

Towers-Hammon v Burnett [2007] QDC 282

The respondent pleaded guilty to bashing several cats with an iron bar causing four deaths. The dead cats, along with one severely beaten but still alive kitten, were placed in a bag and disposed of in a charity clothing bin. On appeal, it was held that the trial judge failed to have sufficient regard to the callous nature of the respondent's actions and the respondent was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

RSPCA v O'Loughlan [2007] SASC 113

The appellant, the RSPCA, relied on the fact that a horse, once in RSPCA care, had a significantly improved condition in comparison to that described as 'emaciated' while in the respondent's care. The respondent claimed that the horse's condition fluctuated depending on the presence of mares in heat during summer and that she had tried several changes to the feed to counter a loss in weight. On appeal, the appellate judge did not disturb the trial judge's finding and confirmed that the respondent's conduct was reasonable in the circumstances.

R (on the application of Countryside Alliance and others) v Attorney General and another [2007] UKHL 52 An appeal was brought against a decision that the Hunting Act 2004 was not inconsistent with the EC Treaty, or incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. In particular, the appellants argued that the Act was incompatible with the right to a private and family life; and the right of freedom of assembly and association (Articles 8 and 11 of the Human Rights Act); along with Articles 1 and 14 of the Act (the right to peaceful enjoyment of property rights, and prohibition on discrimination). The appeal was rejected by the House of Lords. Findings included that Articles 8 and 11 were not engaged, and that even if they were, the hunting ban was proportionate to the end it sought to achieve and necessary in a democratic society.
Anderson v Moore [2007] WASC 135

The appellant ignored advice to make available reasonable amounts of food to feed sheep. The appellant claimed to be acting under veterinary advice and further that the trial judge erred in taking into account the subjectivity of the appellant's actions. All claims were dismissed.

Secretary of State for The Home Office v. BUAV and the Information Commissioner [2008] EWHC 892 (QB Appeal concerning the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and experiments involving animals. The BUAV had made an information request in respect of five research project licenses issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Home Office released limited summary information, relying on exemptions under FOIA to reason this; namely under section 24(1) which would prohibit information from being disclosed that had been given “in confidence.” The Court of Appeal upheld the decision that the Home Office was entitled to refuse BUAV’s information request.
Larobina v R [2009] NSWDC 79

The appellant appeal against a conviction for animal cruelty sustained in a lower court. After an examination of the elements of the statutory offense, it was found that the charge upon which the conviction was sustained was unknown to law.

City of Armidale v Kiraly [2009] WASC 199

The respondent, an owner of a brindle boxer dog, was charged with the dog attacking a person and for having the dog in a public place without a leash. The dog had escaped from the respondent's house and allegedly ran to and lunged at a lady delivering pamphlets. On appeal, the question of whether the dog's behaviour constituted an 'attack' for the purposes of the Dog Act 1976 (WA) s 33D(1) was a question of fact to be determined by the trial judge and, accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

Ward v RSPCA [2010] EWHC 347 (Admin) RSPCA inspectors attended Mr Ward’s smallholding to find two horses in a severely distressed condition, with a worm infestation. Veterinarian advice had not been sought following failed attempts to home treat. The farmer was convicted of unnecessary suffering pursuant to section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and disqualified from owning, keeping, participating in the keeping of, or controlling or influencing the way horses or cattle are kept for a three year period, pursuant to section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The defendant brought an appeal to the Crown Court and the High Court in respect of the disqualification. The High Court dismissed the appeal and held that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 was intended to promote the welfare of animals and part of the mechanism of protection is the order of disqualification following convictions for offences under the Act.
Windridge Farm Pty Ltd v Grassi [2010] NSWSC 335

The defendants entered the plaintiff's land, containing a piggery, with the intention of taking photographs and film footage to establish that the plaintiff failed to meet certain standards. The defendants' argument that the plaintiff was not entitled to injunctive relief because of 'unclean hands' was dismissed by the court. The court also found that the defensive argument based on 'implied freedom of political communication' did not have application in the circumstances.

Robertson v Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries [2010] QCA 147

An Inspector of the RSPCA entered premises occupied by the respondent and seized 104 dogs under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 which were then forfeited to the state. These actions were confirmed when the respondent sought an administrative review of the decisions and leave to appeal was refused. The respondent sought to raise numerous grounds of appeal against the prior refusal of leave to appeal, however, the appeal was struck out.

Dart v Singer [2010] QCA 75

The applicants pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) following the seizure of 113 live dogs, one cat, 488 rats, 73 mice, 12 guinea pigs and 11 birds from their premises due to unsanitary and inappropriate living conditions. The applicants claimed that RSPCA officers were acting ultra vires and that a stay preventing the RSCPA from parting with the animals should be effected. The applicants' argument failed.

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